Toyota to Invest $1bn in AI and Robotics
A couple of billion-dollar investments lead the news this week. First, Toyota plans a big push into artificial intelligence and robotics research and says it will invest $1 billion over the next five years to establish a Silicon Valley research and development center. Reports say the Toyota Research Institute will be led by Gill Pratt, who joined Toyota from DARPA where he ran the robotics challenge, an event that promoted work on robots that can work with humans. The institute will be set up in January and will be based close to Stanford University. A second campus will be near MIT in Massachusetts. Over the next few years, the research institute is expected to grow to around 200 scientists and engineers.
EV Startup Could Roll Out a Vehicle in 2017
In the week’s second-billion dollar announcement, Faraday Future, an electric vehicle and mobility startup, reportedly will invest $1 billion in a U.S. manufacturing facility. Faraday hopes to roll out seven electric vehicles in quick succession after its first model debuts in 2017. The company has been scouting sites for the plant in California, Georgia, Louisiana and Nevada. It expects to announce a location in the coming weeks. The Bloomberg news service says the startup is backed by a Chinese billionaire.
Congress Tells OSHA to Boost Penalties
The federal budget that was passed by Congress and signed into law November 2 authorizes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to boost penalties for the first time since 1990. The law allows OSHA to make a one-time “catch-up” increase to make up for more than two decades of no increases. The catch-up may not exceed the inflation rate from 1990 through 2015 as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Reports say that inflation was around 82% over the 25-year period, meaning that penalties could rise by that amount.
Seattle Skyscraper Uses Fiber-Reinforced Concrete
Use of steel fiber-reinforced concrete in place of rebar in the coupling beams of a metro Seattle skyscraper has helped simplify and speed the building's construction while maintaining structural integrity. Seattle is one of the most seismically active regions of the U.S. All coupling beams in the 1.5 million-square-foot Lincoln Square Expansion—which includes luxury condos, a hotel, dining, retail and office space in two 450-foot towers—are made of fiber-reinforced concrete. The concrete coupling beams span doorways and windows, helping walls to function as a single structural unit, while strengthening the building as a whole against earthquakes.